Posts Tagged ‘rano360travels’

The Mercedes-Benz Driving Experience 2018

Written by Rano Iskandar on . Posted in travel, automative, lifestyle, Social News

 


The Brunei representatives including the 10 lucky winners from Jati Transport Sdn Bhd during the Mercedes-Benz Driving Experience 2018 in Kuala Lumpur recently
 


Posing with the GLC AMG 63
 

One of the lucky customers of Jati Transport Sdn Bhd was very grateful that the company hosted such event outside of Brunei Darussalam for their customers. Not just one or two customers but 10 lucky customers had the privilege to test drive different ranges of the Mercedes-Benz models on the famous Sepang International Circuit, Selangor, Malaysia recently.

This was also made possible by Mercedes-Benz Malaysia as the winners were able to participate in the Mercedes-Benz Driving Experience 2018 in Kuala Lumpur.

Our Brunei representatives was grouped with the Philippines, Singapore and Bangladesh. All of us were treated to stay at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Kuala Lumpur and it truly fitted the occasion hosted by Mercedes-Benz Malaysia.

We were treated to a great hospitality team by MBM at the Paddock Club 1, maybe the best I’ve experience at Sepang International Circuit and we were given awesome Mercedes goodies. Let’s not forget the free flow of food and beverage during the whole day session.

Before experiencing the different rides on the different Mercedes-Benz models, the participants were greeted by Peter Hackett, MBM AMG Representative/Chief Driving Instructor/Australian Endurance Championship GT Race Driver and he gave a run down of the program and also a briefing on certain skills such as braking, wheels and most of important, safety in dangerous situations.

So which models did we drive? The C300, The A250, The CLS 450 and lastly, my favourite, The AMG C 43. Most of us were able to also drive the GLCs. The instructors were very accommodating and helped the participants to go through the activities – the Slalom course, the Race Start Simulation and the Drifting Session.

I actually enjoyed all the activities and especially the lapping sessions which took place after lunch. This meant we were able to drive the whole track of the Sepang International Circuit and we took turns to drive all the models prepared by MBM.

I didn’t try the Taxi Ride session where the instructors did a hot lap session so the participant got to experience how professional racers drive on the track.

The Brunei participants didn’t go empty handed as we walked with goodie bags and also certificate of participation. One Bruneian, Reuben Fang, was awarded the Best Male Driver by the organiser. Awesome, huh? Congratulations, buddy!!

I could tell that the Brunei group had fun during the one day event. They also took the opportunity to take photos with the newly launched AMG G 63 and also the AMG GLC 63 which were being displayed at the Sepang International Circuit.

Let’s hope this sort of event will be a yearly thing for Mercedes-Benz customers. I wonder what models will be introduced in the next driving event.

 

 


Customary group photo before the first session
 


Azlan Ahmad, founder of Mixmediaworx, receiving his certificate of participation
 


Another Bruneian receiving a certificate
 

 


Izah Azahari of Borneo Bulletin also enjoyed her session
 


Pg Abdullah posing for the camera
 


Reuben Fang the Best Male Driver
 


I loved the bean bags
 


Chilling at the hospitality section at Paddock Club 1
 

 


The Mercedes-Benz CLS 450
 


The drifting session with the A200/A250. I kinda enjoyed this.
 


The ladies were excited for their sessions
 


Ready, Get Set, Go
 


I love the C 43 😀
 

 


I don’t mind this as my garage
 


Take your pick
 


Daniel and I chilling before the ride
 


Olala… The AMG GT C
 


This AMG can be a collateral for your new home
 

 


I don’t mind being caged with the Mercs
 

Visit Nepal Part I

Written by Rano Iskandar on . Posted in travel, lifestyle, Social News

 


What a beautiful sight from the plane! I really miss Kathmandu. Definitely coming back again 😀
 

My long overdue entry. My recent trip to Kathmandu from 25th September to 3rd October was definitely an eye opener and perhaps the best highlight of my travels for 2018 so far. Initially, I was slightly skeptical, feeling a bit fearful, being in a country too foreign and a country recovering for the devastating earthquake back in 2015. I even worry to the point of internet connection (the lack of it) and such (Yea, you can tell that I’m quite addicted to the world of internet).

Being a CI holder, meaning a Certificate of Identity “passport” holder, I wasn’t sure if my travel document will be accepted in Nepali waters. I only knew my fate at the Nepal Embassy in Kuala Lumpur where I waited patiently for 3 hours before my travel document reached the Chargé d’Affaires level as the First Secretary couldn’t give me a definite answer. Finally, it was a YES and I was too excited that I would be able to fly to Kathmandu with ease. So ladies and gentlemen, for those with CI “passport”, it will only take one day to process and you collect your passport the following day. For 15 day visa, it’s RM 100, 30 day visa for RM 160 and 90 day visa for RM 400. I applied the 15 day visa.

For those wondering on catching a flight to Kathmandu, there are many airlines that fly to Kathmandu via Singapore/Kuala Lumpur. My preference would be through Kuala Lumpur and I believe that one of those legs, you have might have to sacrifice one night in Kuala Lumpur. The average flight fares are at BND 800ish so it’s something for you to plan in advance to save up for the fares. My preference would be taking Malaysian Airlines because of the comfort as compared to AirAsia. The flight from KL to Kathmandu is roughly 4 hours 30 mins.

 

 


A 4 hour 30 mins flight on business class is worth it. I was surprised that the online fare on Malaysia Airlines offered me BND 600 from Kuala Lumpur to Kathmandu return with one sector of business class!!! Now that was an awesome deal. AirAsia then was selling BND 1,000 return. The decision was simple 😉
 

Kathmandu, ah yes, it was surreal when I landed at Tribhuvan International Airport. The immigration process was quite efficient and you can actually apply visa on arrival but that would mean longer queue and waiting time. The baggage claim area was pretty small and it can get overwhelming. I was waiting for sometime only to realize that my bag was shifted to the floor from the belt. So do be aware of that.

Ohh yeah, do get your SIM card, once you reach the small arrival hall. There are only two telcos and I would recommend Ncell. I took the higher tier one with 8GB for around BND 15 which is 1,200 Nepalese Rupee. I was quite impressed that their network is quite fast at times. I also ended up not using the whole data after a week stay in Nepal. There are times when network can be frustrating but overall, I am still impressed with their 4G network. So choose Ncell if you are in Nepal. The only downside is when you apply for the SIM card, you have to fill in a form and also produce a passport size photo.

 

 


The Tribhuvan International Airport is kinda small and we caught the shuttle bus before reaching the immigration
 


Interesting to see this on the arrival card
 


Oh yeah, every subscriber have to fill in a form when you sign up for a SIM card. Good thing I brought my photo.
 

Now Taxis are pretty cheap. They are everywhere once you step out of the small airport. Drivers will be hunting for tourists and for a reasonable price to Thamel (the city area) will be roughly BND 8 (700 Nepalese Rupee). There are no meters on most taxis so you can start bargaining with the drivers. So try to negotiate to 700 NR and if they question you, just say that’s what you paid for on your last visit. The airport to Thamel area wasn’t that far. Even with traffic, it would take tops 40 mins or so. Kinda nearby if you ask me.

Hotels. Well, there are pretty cheap and affordable. I chose a 3 star hotel and a 4 star hotel and both were pretty good. Of course, the latter was better. The first hotel I chose was Aryatara Kathmandu Hotel (3 stars) and it’s only around BND 60 per night. It could have been cheaper depending which dates you are flying in. There are even some hotels with great ratings as low as BND 30 per night. So it’s the choices are up to you. I made all my bookings on booking.com and so far, no complains. As for the second hotel I stayed was the Royal Penguin Boutique Hotel which was more of a pleasant stay.

Let’s talk about Aryatara Hotel. I love the service. The front desk people are quite polite and even the manager on duty. He took time to greet those who dined in for breakfast and I thought that was a nice gesture to have. My room was quite spacious and the bed was not bad. I had a spare twin bed where I dumped my other things for convenience. The hotel has good access to the market area too. Breakfast wise, it wasn’t too bad, it wasn’t too good. Just average because of its limited choices. TV channels are limited. Then again BND 60 is a great deal. Ain’t complaining. You can have airport transfer from the hotel too. There’s a Korean restaurant next to Aryatara. As for laundry, there’s a laundry outlet nearby and they go by the kilo. Quite cheap too.

As for Royal Penguin Boutique Hotel, I am in love with this hotel. For BND 100 per night, I didn’t expect such good service and furthermore, the room was pretty awesome!! I didn’t expect this in Nepal and according to my friend who works at Agoda, this is one of the top hotels in Thamel, Kathmandu. The service is top-notch and they treat guest like god. What I am impressed with the designs of the room. So much thought being invested in RP rooms. It has even stuff animals and fresh plants inside the room. The TV channels are endless. I could just stay in and watch TV all day long. Even Premier League matches are available.

The room service is 24 hours too. The unique thing is the breakfast deal. Since it’s a set breakfast, you can have it anytime of the day and not only limited to breakfast hours. Cool, huh? The only beef I had was the wifi. My Ncell 4G line is much faster than the in-house wifi. Other than that, it’s great. A safe box, a weighing scale and even provided an extension with multiple sockets. Clean and modern looking, I would guarantee you that you will enjoy your stay at Royal Penguin and it’s located at the smackdown area of Thamel city. I shall visit this hotel again on my next trip.

 

 


The first few days, I stayed at Aryatara Kathmandu Hotel and I enjoyed their service. Only problem was my room was on the fifth floor and there were no lifts :/
 


I was in love with Royal Penguin Boutique Hotel for so many reasons. Highly recommended.
 


The good thing is that you pay in your preferred currency though they don’t accept Brunei notes. I had my Singapore dollars then. US dollars is also widely accepted.
 

Kathmandu. Now this is one interesting city. Despite the hustle and bustle of Thamel, I felt a sense of calm and it took me a few days to get warmed up. Of course, my travel buddy, Pranika Lama, guided me on tips and such for me to be familiar around the city from walking to grabbing a “tempo” to a taxi. I even had an opportunity to hop on the public bus. Google maps was also my saviour. The only one that I didn’t experience was hoping on a van. Apparently the van ride was much more risky as compared to the rest according to Pranika. The “Tempo” was an interesting ride. It costs roughly 10-20 cents only. It’s like their version of Tuk Tuk but bigger. It’s shared for the public and you can hop on anytime you want and just pay the driver the fee after being dropped off. I was wondering the mechanics of the Tempo but it was pretty simplified. It was able to carry at least 10-12 people, depending on your sizes. When you think it’s full, don’t be surprised if one or two person can still squeeze in. To cue the driver for the next stop, just simply use ur hand to bang on the metal roof. The cheapest means of transport but the only problem was the language barrier if you want to ask the driver for directions. I was fortunate enough to have Pranika guided me on which number Tempo to hop on.

I love Nepalese people too. Not all can speak English by the way but most shops in Thamel have some command of English as this is a tourist zone. There are many occasions I was mistaken for a Nepali. Too make it even obvious, I wore their type of clothings to blend in more. Some of the shop attendants would take pictures with me because of my foreign status with a Nepali vibe *lol*

 

 


My first photo at Thamel Street
 


The Tempo I was talking about. It’s operated on batteries and not petrol.
 


You can see the skeleton of the Tempo at the driver area. I can even notice the ground from this view.
 

After my 3rd day in Thamel, my love for Nepal grew and I became more adaptive to the environment. Yea, you may have noticed me sporting a face mask and that was because Thamel can be very dusty as constructions were still ongoing for the restorations of building and temples  after the 2015 earthquake. So yea, my advice is to buy a mask, just in case and it is also a good fashion accessory 😉 Walking 3-5 kilometers was my daily routine and Thamel was such a crowded zone with tons of shops, selling handicrafts, boutiques, clothes and even electronics. I did spent a handful on clothes for souvenirs and plenty more on accessories. I ended flying back with a 35 kilo load which was an unusual practice when I travel abroad.

 

 


At Durbar Square where buildings are being restored and renovated after the 2015 earthquake
 


Tons of souvenirs, handicrafts being sold at Durbar Square
 


Thanks Pranika for being my unofficial tour guide 😀
 

Halal restaurants were easy to locate and I believe they have roughly 5-6 within Thamel. You can simply google Thamel Halal. I tried Shafqat Halal Food Restaurant, Anatolia Restaurant (Turkish and Indian cuisine) and Third Eye Restaurant, maybe favourite of the lot. Please do try the Nepalese dish – Momo and Dal Bhat. Dal bhat is a traditional meal from the Indian subcontinent, popular in many areas of Nepal, Bangladesh and India. It consists of steamed rice and a cooked lentil soup called dal. I actually enjoyed the dish but it can be very filling for me. Momos, according to Pranika, aren’t as authentic as they added more flavor which loses the authenticity of the taste of a real Momo. Well, if you are keen, you can try out a Momo restaurant in Kuala Belait where the Momos are cooked in a traditional way. Just another advice if you are in Kathmandu, do order water bottles rather than a glass of water. Sometimes, you don’t want to take the risk of not acclimatizing to the boiled water in Kathmandu. So to be safe, order water bottles instead.

 

 


One of the halal restaurants I tried at Thamel.
 

Culture. Interestingly enough, this is a city that has high tolerance on religion. Both Hindu and Buddhism are very common and when you visit the temples and Stupas, most of them will share histories of their gods. It was no surprise that there are tons of arts and sculptures in the Kathmandu valley. If you are into history, there is an abundant of historical sources in Kathmandu. You can visit the museums, temples and so on. Of course, the popular ones which made a name of itself were Durbar Square, Pashupatinath Temple and along the streets of Thamel because Dr. Strage was being filmed there. I only managed to enter Durbar Square and took some shots and of course, Thamel street is also quite accessible and convenient to visit.

Human traffic is quite high especially at the tourist zone with a mixture of foreigns and locals. Even on narrow streets, all types of vehicles can still drive thru the congestion and there were times when they can get stuck for a little while. Some cars would even step on the gas in tighter streets. The usage of horns were quite high and it was pretty common. One of my Nepali friends told me that one of the highest cause of death were accidents. Ironically, I only came across one accident, on the final day of my stay in Nepal. I would have to say that on average, the Nepalese people are quite hardworking in earning a living. There were even little children, carrying huge sacks on their back to deliver items to his/her clients.

 

 


At Durbar Square
 


At Durbar Square
 


Pranika all smiles
 


One of the historical chariots being displayed at Durbar Square
 


It can get pretty colourful at night at the streets of Thamel
 

Safe. Well, I was well informed by a local person and also Pranika to watch out whenever I roamed around Thamel area. Somehow, I found the area quite safe and it was ok to take precaution measures just in case. I was recommended not to look too touristy and be mindful of pickpockets around Thamel area. The shops closed around 9pm and the night life wasn’t as entertaining at certain joints. I was also told not to wonder around being solo after 10pm or so. I never tried but I noticed uniform personnel stationed outside hotels during evening time. So maybe that’s a reason why I felt safe walking alone if I had to. Just don’t flaunt your richness or make it too obvious 🙂

Dusty. I remembered two years ago when Pranika was wearing her face mask because the air pollution was quite moderate. Most of the areas in Thamel were dusty due to the ongoing constructions and restoring of roads and buildings. I masked myself almost 80% of the time as I could sense the dust. You will see shop attendants planting water to the flooring area outside their shops so the dusts will settle down when people walking or cars driving past. When shops closed after business hours, some would clear off the dust and sand from their products that were displayed outside the shop. Be mentally prepared for these kind of situations.

Stay tune for my second part!!

 


This is their version of music entertainment
 


This is the mood after 9pm. Most shops will be closed by then.
 


Yes, this is my shoes that got pretty dusty during my 7 day visit in Nepal
 


Mask on 😀
 

The Paddock experience

Written by Rano Iskandar on . Posted in travel, automative, lifestyle, Social News

 

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Who would have thought I will get exclusive access INSIDE an F1 paddock and only this VIP pass is possible. I also managed to get the Sauber F1 drivers to sign on them. Priceless tag 😀
 

 

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The beaut of Alfa Romeo Giulia. With a V6 engine powered with a 2.9 litre, this is a powerful car. Had the honour to be chauffeured in this car 😀
 

I can’t believe it!!! I’m back in the Singapore for the F1 event. In fact, I went to the inaugural Singapore F1 back in 2008. That’s like 10 years ago. Now I’m so fortunate to be back here in Singapore and thanks to @alfaromeobrunei for sponsoring the trip and it was special indeed. Let me tell you why.

I was given access to enter the paddock of the Sauber team who partners with Alfa Romeo in this season of the F1 Grand Prix. This access is different to that of Paddock Club ticket holders (ranging from BND 1,300 to BND 8,000). Those paddock holders can allow walk outside the paddock line to view all the constructor cars. They will be given a specific time to tour around and take pictures and videos.

Now for my pass, it’s a special pass where I have the privilege to enter inside the paddock of Sauber and witness the operations of the engineers on how they deal with the car and the driver when he pits the car. Each driver have their dedicated engineers and support team and I can see why it’s important to be meticulous when it comes to F1 racing. The car and its conditions have to be in perfect, mint condition every time it’s being pitted so the driver can drive to the best of his ability with a highest optimum specs from the car.

We weren’t allowed to take photos inside the paddock and that is quite understandable. We did have a chance to take videos and photos but only outside the perimeter of the Sauber paddock.

The best part of the Friday tour activity was the 5 minute moments with both drivers of Sauber F1 team – Marcus Ericsson (29) and Charles Leclerc (20) whom will be driving for Ferrari next year. This, for me, was an amazing feeling. To be up close and personal to an F1 driver is not an easy feat alone. So a huge thanks to @alfaromeobrunei for making this dream come true.

I also had the privilege to be driven in the Alfa Romeo Giulia, a 2.9 litre with V6 engine. It was launched in Singapore and that car alone costs a hefty BND 380,000. Gulp!!!! That’s Singapore for you. As for Brunei, Alfa Romeo will be making its comeback pretty soon and I shall keep you posted.

Thank you once again @alfaromeobrunei for making this memorable trip for me. I can’t wait to see a Giulia on a Brunei road. Many of you will be impressed. Trust me.

 

 

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The meeting point before being sent to the paddock
 

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Inside the Alfa Romeo Giulia
 

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The catalogue. I should have taken one with me.
 

 

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Blessed!!!! With future Ferrari driver, Charles Leclerc, from Poland
 

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A humble driver, Marcus Ericsson, from Sweden
 

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Outside the paddock of Sauber F1 team
 

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Cleaning out the debris and dirt from the F1 tires
 

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Our hospitality area for the paddock team.
 

 

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How the steering looks like inside the Sauber car. Buttons galore.
 

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Charles didn’t had a good run in the first practice session. His tire hit at turn 13 of the track.
 

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Thank you once again, @alfaromeobrunei for this opportunity
 

An amazing Porsche experience

Written by Rano Iskandar on . Posted in travel, automative, lifestyle, Social News

 

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Group photo with all the media representatives hosted by Porsche Asia-Pacific for the Media Driving Academy at Sepang International Circuit earlier this July
 

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A photo opp with the newly launched Porsche 911 GT2RS
 

Last year, I had the privilege to attend the Media Driving Academy (MDA) hosted by Porsche Asia-Pacific. They consisted of three courses – Individual, Professional and Elite. As for last year, I entered the Individual course which is the basic course among the lot. It was definitely fun. Why? Because it’s the only time we can break the rules in terms of speeding on the road and it was conducted at the Sepang International Circuit, ideal for racers.

Fast forward to this year (July 2018), I was invited again by Porsche Asia-Pacific where I completed the other two courses – Professional and Elite earlier this month. I met familiar faces especially from the international media representatives in Asia-Pacific.

There were two main highlights for me – the launch of the Porsche GT2RS and the driving experience of the Porsche GT3.

Firstly, the Porsche GT2RS. Wow, wow, wow!!!! A beast among beast, this is a collectors item for Porsche lovers. Car and Driver even labeled it as the chainsaw of the 911 line-up. It has a 700 horse power twin-turbo engine. The previous GT2 model has a hp of 620 so there is definitely a difference. You can tell that the GT2RS is built for speed. The price tag alone is quite high. You’re talking about RM 1.3 million itself in Malaysia. Apparently there’s a Porsche GT2RS on the road in Brunei. Amazing!! Sadly, the GT2RS is only for display for the media and not for a test drive.

Of course, the main highlight of the MDA was test driving the newer editions of the Porsche finest models – 911 GT3 (me likes), 718 Cayman GTS and the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid on the SIC race track.

The favourite among the lot for me is the 911 GT3 – simply awesome and it has a mind of its own. I truly love the handling at high speed as well as the braking. It just gives me more assurance to drive safer especially on the race track.

The instructors were very helpful too and our group (Brunei, Indonesia, Cambodia) was lucky to have William Bamber, brother of Earl Bamber, an accomplished race car driver, who competes for Porsche Motorsport. The hospitality was top notch to begin with and the goodies were awesome too – Adidas racing boots and a racing helmet for completing both Professional and Elite courses.

After all the experiences, I truly understand how magnificent Porsche are in terms of handling, speed and safety. We were given tasks such as the Slolam, the Moose, the Braking and many more. I enjoyed the Slolam one as we did a time lapse for every driver to see who was the fastest.

The second day was much more interesting as we learnt the tracks of the SIC race track from start to finish. I realised how awesome Porsche are on the road. Expensive but you will know where the money is spent on. Unfortunately, in Brunei, it’s not something we can take advantage when we have a monster of a car like Porsche because of the driving laws and also the conditions of our roads in Brunei.

Soon, some selected customers will be having their own session organised by Porsche (Brunei) in early August for the upcoming Porsche Driving Experience at Sepang. I hope they have the same experience as I did and it’s also a great way to showcase what a Porsche can do.

Will I own a Porsche? If the money and timing are right, why not? 😉

 

 

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Just look at that convoy
 

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My favourite car during MDA experience
 

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Did you realize that the driver side is on the left? Yes, all the Porsche are imported from Europe.
 

 

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The lead car was always the Porsche GT3
 

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Listening to advices by the instructors at some of the activities
 

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Receiving a pair of Adidas racing boots 😉
 

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These boots are made for racing 😀
 

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Learning how to handle around corners and bends
 

 

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We had some physical exercises as well. Did you know that racing also involves a good physique such as your hand, neck and body?
 

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Receiving a souvenir from the organiser 😀
 

Behind the scene: CUCKOO factories

Written by Rano Iskandar on . Posted in technology, Business, Social News

 

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The media from Brunei outside one of CUCKOO factory in Seoul
 

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Posing with Mr. Hoe, CEO of CUCKOO Malaysia for one of the photo contest
 

What a fortunate treat for the local media from Brunei who had the privilege to visit the factories of CUCKOO (multi-cooker and water purifier). The first visit was at Yangsan factory located in Busan, South Korea.

I would have thought it would be stricter for companies as big asCUCKOO to allow visitors to see the production line of CUCKOO. So it was such a fitting trip that we as the media were given the opportunity to see how a strong brand likeCUCKOO made it so popular in the Asia Pacific.

The Yangsan factory we visited mainly focused on multi-cookers and kitchen appliances. We were brought to the conference room where delegates from Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore were introduced to the management team of Yangsan Factory.

We learnt that CUCKOO’s multi-cookers are known for four things: Smart Algorithm, Pressure Cooking, Heating Technology and Coating Technology. These advanced technologies helped one to prepare food or meal at a touch of button. At the factory itself, we had a sneak peak on how the functions were created.

For a person who rarely cooks and maybe most of the readers here, how does pressure cooking really helps or an advantage? Imagine you don’t have enough time to cook. By using CUCKOO’s multi-cooker, you can save 70% of your cooking time and that’s with the help of the pressure cooking technology inside CUCKOO multi-cooker. This is very ideal for the working class who has limited time when it comes to cooking.

It’s really hard to explain to those who aren’t familiar with cooking. But I can guarantee you that once a CUCKOO multi-cooker in in your hands, you won’t regret the purchase. It’s no surprise why 70% household in Korea uses CUCKOO brand for their cooking and that shows the Korean really trust their products.

For the record, CUCKOO multi-cooker is sold every 10 seconds in South Korea. How I wish I had the same business model like CUCKOO.

Now saying all that, all these technologies infused in CUCKOO’s appliances are manufactured at Yangsan factory. We saw some of the production lines within the premise and I was impressed with the dedication and precision by the CUCKOO factory workers. You will be surprised the average age of the workers which is around 24-25 years old.

We also had the privilege to visit the Siheung Factory which focuses more on water purifier. It has a similar production line concept like Yangsan and it’s located closer to Seoul. With the two plants in South Korea, they are able to produce more than 4.5 million set annually.

They have around a few hundred workers working behind the scene. All they focus is just their tasks given and I hardly see them having a conversation among themselves. It’s as if they are like human robots in the production line. That’s how discipline the workers are in the factory.

Interestingly enough, Brian Koo Bon Hak, the CEO of CUCKOO Electronics Co. Ltd, mentioned of a plan to build a RM 100 million factory in Malaysia to produce water purifier products. This will help to bridge the demand gap due to the rapid growth in Southeast Asia and Brunei is one of the emerging markets in the water purifier category.

 

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With the presence of media from Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore during the media conference at CUCKOO factory in Seoul
 

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One of the production lines for the CUCKOO multi-cooker
 

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The workers are very focused and dedicate when handling the components
 

 

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One of the semi-conductors used for the multi-cooker
 

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The faulty section where one will commission to see what went wrong with the unit
 

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The upcoming multi-cooker model that is able to make Gaba rice
 

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Gaba rice is better than brown rice and healthier
 

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Our local model from Brunei posing with CUCKOO water purifier
 

 

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Behind the scenes on how the water purifier are being produced
 

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I was pretending to spy inside the production line :p
 

Brunei makes a mark on CUCKOO’s 40th celebration

Written by Rano Iskandar on . Posted in health, Business, Social News

 

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Mr Brian Koo, CEO of CUCKOO Korea and Mr. K.C. Hoe, CEO of CUCKOO Malaysia doing the honours for the Cuckoo’s 40th anniversary celebration at Seoul Dragon City, Korea last Wednesday.
 

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CUCKOO unveiled the new ambassador for CUCKOO, Lee Seung Gi, who sang two numbers to delight of the attendees
 

 

2017 was an excellent year for CUCKOO Brunei. The year in which Cuckoo International Brunei reached many milestones, including the successful introduction of a flexible dual package plan, known as CUCKOO’s UP PLAN, which was launched in January 2018.

These plans were thoughtfully designed to allow Bruneian families from all walks of life to effortlessly own CUCKOO appliances – and enjoy the higher standard of life that comes with them – without overburdening themselves financially. The market’s response was positive beyond expectations, allowing CUCKOO Brunei to achieve results that were Beyond Standards:


 “We wouldn’t have been able to achieve such results without the efforts of my highly supportive team, who believed in our vision,” said Mr Wong Kim Guan, Managing Director of Cuckoo Brunei. Within 18 months, CUCKOO Brunei has already opened 9 brand stores, and Garnered over 3,500 households, generating a revenue of 2 million Brunei dollars.

“Greater plans are coming ahead in 2018 for Cuckoo Brunei, where we aim to provide better plans and services to meet greater expectations,” Said Wong Hui Ting, Marketing Director of Cuckoo Brunei.

 

 

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The priceless selfie taken by the Korean celebrity
 

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Mr Wong Kim Guan, Managing Director of CUCKOO Brunei receiving award for the Country Arising Sales Award. I’m quite proud to see Brunei on the map.
 

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CUCKOO Brunei team witnessing the 40th anniversary
 

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Members of the media from Brunei 😀
 

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I made great connections with these bunch 😀
 

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I’m proud of Guan and Hui Ting for your efforts in making CUCKOO a household name in Brunei Darussalam
 

In 2016, CUCKOO has penetrated into the south east Asian markets like Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, and Indonesia. “Our sights are set on expanding the CUCKOO brand to Vietnam, India and Indonesia in 2018. We estimate that our overseas ventures will bring in an annual revenue of USD150 million in 2018, and a total of USD1 billion in the next 5 years. So, we will continue to increase our presence in overseas markets and focus our efforts on the global expansion of the CUCKOO brand,” revealed Mr Brian Koo, CEO of CUCKOO Korea, at CUCKOO’s 40th anniversary celebration.

Held at Seoul Dragon City, CUCKOO’s 40th anniversary celebration was attended by over 500 CUCKOO employees and media personnel from Korea, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore and Indonesia on 7 March 2018.

CUCKOO is a well-known home appliance brand from South Korea. In South Korea, a CUCKOO water purifier is sold every minute and a CUCKOO rice cooker is sold every 10 seconds. Today, CUCKOO has successfully extended its operations to 30 countries across 5 continents. In 2017, CUCKOO’s global turnover hit a record of USD $760 million.

In August 2016, CUCKOO Brunei joined the CUCKOO family. Within 18 months, CUCKOO Brunei has sold countless water purifiers to Bruneians through a revolutionary ownership plan, and also introduced multi-cookers and air purifiers to the Bruneian audience. In 2017, CUCKOO Brunei accumulated 3,500 Bruneian customers and thus, opened over 9 brand stores nationwide.

For more information about CUCKOO, please call the CUCKOO Careline at +673 2333330 or visit www.cuckoobrunei.com or CUCKOO BRUNEI’s official Facebook page.

 

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Unveiling three new markets for CUCKOO – India, Indonesia and Vietnam
 

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Hello Seung Gi
 

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Does this count as a selfie? haha
 

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He is the new ambassador and I can’t believe loads of Bruneians are crazy for him
 

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I’m impressed with the JS Drummers on the opening segment
 

Brunei Travel Fair 2017 prize presentation

Written by Rano Iskandar on . Posted in travel, lifestyle, Social News

 

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Irene Soon, General Manager of Sabre Travel Network (Brunei) thanking all the supporters and partners of the recent travel fair before the prize presentation for the winners held at Emperor’s Court
 

Sabre Travel Network (Brunei) Sdn Bhd hosted the Brunei Travel Fair 2017 last month at the Banquet Hall, International Convention Centre and yesterday was the prizes presentation to honour the winners of the lucky draw campaign that took place during that weekend.

So how did it fare? Pretty good in fact. It attracted more than 13,500 visitors to the travel fair and the bookings received increased by 24% from last year’s. That’s pretty encouraging number considering the economic climate of Brunei Darussalam.

Irene Soon, General Manager of Sabre Travel Network (Brunei), appreciated all the partners and supporters involved in making the travel fair another success.

The prize presentation ceremony took place at Emperor’s Court and it was attended by Sabre Travel Network (Brunei), Baiduri Bank, Royal Brunei Airlines and travel agencies. The prizes were sponsored by Sabre Travel Network (Brunei), Baiduri Bank, Royal Brunei Airlines and Malaysia Airlines.

 

 

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Ms Lim Shar Lun won a 2 Returned Economy Class Tickets to any Royal Brunei Airlines long haul destination
 

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12 year old Md Shahirul Azuan Md Effendi won a two return economy class ticket to any Royal Brunei Airlines short haul destination for winning in Category A for the Fidget Spinner competition
 

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Wan Farhan Hj Ibrahim won a return economy class air ticket to any Royal Brunei Airlines short haul destination. He won in Category B for the Fidget Spinner competition.
 

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Ms Malinee Bumrungkit won a Mayer Healthy Fryer sponsored by Sabre Travel Network
 

The winners.

Malaysia Airlines sponsored returned tickets and the winners were Dk Majeedah Pg Hj Jeludin, a return flight ticket to Penang via Kuala Lumpur and Muna Atiqah Abdul Nadir, a return flight ticket to Langkawi via Kuala Lumpur.

Royal Brunei Airlines sponsored air tickets and Royal Skies Points and the winners were Lim Shar Lun, winning two return flight tickets to any Royal Brunei Airlines long haul destination, Mohd Saiffuddin Mohd Yusop, winning two return flight tickets to any Royal Brunei Airlines short haul destination annd Hj Shahri Hj Zainal, winning 50,000 Royal Skies points.

As for the Sabre Travel Network winners, they were Mahani Md Yussof (GoPro Hero 5), Norhayati Malai Abdullah (Matrix HD TV), Ms Chong Nyan Mee (Philips TV) and Malinee Bumrungkit (Mayer Healthy Fryer).

For the Fidget Spinner Competition organised by Royal Brunei Airlines, the winners were Md Shahirul Azuan Md Effendi for Category A and Wan Farhan Hj Ibrahim for Category B. Both of them won a return flight ticket to any Royal Brunei Airlines short haul destination.

For the Travel Agent category, all the destinations – Ho Chi Minh, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and London belonged to two travel consultants from Pan Bright Travel for their top selling destinations during the travel fair.

For the top Travel Agents award, Freme Travel Services came first while Pan Bright Travel Service came second and Darussalam Holdings finished third.

 

 

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Mahani Md Yussof won herself a GoPro Hero 5 sponsored by Sabre Travel Network
 

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Chong Nyan Mee won herself a Philips TV sponsored by Sabre Travel Network
 

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The winners sponsored by Malaysia Airlines. One is heading to Penang while the other to Langkawai
 

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Freme Travel Services won as the top selling travel agent during the Sabre Travel Fair
 

 

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An agent from Pan Bright Travel Service rewarded for her efforts for her top selling destinations – Singapore and London during the travel fair
 

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Representatives from Pan Bright Travel Services, coming 2nd place in the Top Travel Agents during the Brunei Travel Fair
 

Interview with Mark Raine

Written by Rano Iskandar on . Posted in automative, lifestyle, Social News

Mark Raine, Mercedes-Benz Cars vice-president of sales and marketing (Malaysia), has been active in the car scene lately, leading record sales for Mercedes last year with almost 12,000 units sold in 2016. There are many interesting factors that contributed to the growth of Mercedes-Benz in Malaysia and also in South East Asia.

What has made the premium brand a success as of late? What are their recipes to success and sustainability? I have the privilege to interview Mark Raine during my short visit to Kota Kinabalu last week. Mark is a very easy going lad and very approachable. Thank you for hosting the media and customers last week and arranging a great three day event in showcasing how Mercedes-Benz is not just a product but a lifestyle.

 

 


Interviewing Mark Raine at Shangrila’s Rasa Ria
 

Rano Iskandar: Can you share the growth of Mercedes-Benz and its growing presence in South East Asia?

Mark Raine: I believe we have a holistic approach in our brand, Mercedes-Benz and this has been a huge factor in our growth and being a brand leader in the premium category. We don’t only have the best car but also focusing on customer centric in a way of doing our business, to give a more positive customer experience before and after sales. Even the process of buying a Mercedes is taken into account such as having a competent website, digital approach and also the consultation process. All these are essential in the buying process so in the end, the customers are happy with their choices. This is already half the victory in catering to what the customers want.

The real deal starts after the sales and we at Mercedes emphasizes deeply in this area as this will determine our loyalty of our customers. It has proven a success and it is no doubt that the growth of Mercedes in the premium sector has increased despite the downturn in the economy in SEA.

The extension of the models from Mercedes-Benz has helped to elevate the growth of the brand in the premium sector. These are such as the SUV models – the GLEs, GLCs and GLAs being introduced in the market.

Rano Iskandar: Speaking of the trend, is this segment a huge trend in the region for Mercedes and how it came about?

Mark Raine: Yes, this is more of a global trend that SUVs have impacting the trend. However, there was little choices in the premium segment. We have a gut feeling and took a gamble in this segment and we believed that SUV is the thing of the future. This was also the key element of positioning of the Mercedes brand (in the SUV segment), focusing on lifestyle and affluent customers. This has helped to rejuvenate the brand while improving on innovation and technology.

Rano Iskandar: Why Kota Kinabalu as the prime destination for the #hungryforadventure ?

Mark Raine: The destination speaks for itself and we want to associate the mindset of our customers that our brand offers endurance, great positioning for different walks of life such as taking your children to school or on the weekend, bring your bike for a spin or going for a round of golf and lastly Kota Kinabalu gives a sense of adrenalin which resonates with our brand. We were fortunate that we have different weather conditions during our hill drive this morning at Sabah National Park and it showed what our SUVs are capable of.

We at Mercedes tend to organize events like this twice a year. We will invite our stakeholders along such as the media, the customers to showcase what SUVs are about and also being a premium brand, we want to be approachable to our customers by having a touch and feel on what Mercedes have to offer.

Rano Iskandar: Which model in Malaysia has been a top seller?

Mark Raine: It will be the C class and it targets all walks of life. However, it’s not the only model that has been popular but the compact cars and other models such as the E Class that was launched last year in Malaysia. Pretty soon we will be launching the new E 350E the latest hybrid brand. In terms of growth, it will be the SUVs and the GLC is the best selling in Malaysia and we sold over 3,000 units since its launch.

 

 


Mark Raine, Mercedes-Benz Cars vice-president of sales and marketing (Malaysia), posing with the latest Mercedes-Benz GLC 200 at Hap Seng Star showroom at Kota Kinabalu recently
 

Rano Iskandar: Why introducing the GLC 200 if you already have the GLC 250?

Mark Raine: We have the GLC 250 which is a brilliant product. It’s an SUV 4WD and offers great speed and comfort, positioning it as a very sporty, luxury model.

However to a certain extent, we are only capturing a lot of market but there are customers who want different qualities and traits and their mindsets are different from other customers. Hence the GLC 200 repositions itself in more exclusive luxury segment. It comes standard in on-road package or off-road package. The interior package also makes the value perception of this vehicle very, very high. The GLC 200 is just a notch below the GLC 250, hence makes it more affordable for most customers in the market. The unique selling point of the GLC 200 will be the exclusive luxurious appeal with high value perception and many features at a very competitive price.

Rano Iskandar: The GLC 200 is locally assembled in Malaysia. Is there any difference from the ones being imported?

Mark Raine: No difference at all. Same car, same quality, same quality checks. In essence, the same car. In South East Asia, we have a local production because we have tax exemptions and it makes the pricing more attractive.

Rano Iskandar: The GLE 43 Coupe OrangeArt Limited Edition. Share me more about it.

Mark Raine: It’s already available through order. It’s very limited and exclusive order. It’s very eccentric and flashy feel. It has a 21 inch AMG wheels with the OrangeArt Edition exterior package. We even have the Night Package. The eccentric and unique edition features extravagant design highlights including striking expressive decals in the orange on the front apron and the AMG wheels painted in high-gloss black and rim flange painted in orange.

The GLE 43 Coupe Orange Art Edition making it a high end personalised edition giving that special, individualized character and it’s definitely a striking appeal.

 

 


I had the privilege to test drive the GLC 200 and it will available in Brunei market hopefully by November 2017
 


Loving the feel and the drive. Of course, I love the AMG GLC 250 but this model is still good enough to keep me satisfied
 


A nice touch when I opened the door of the GLC 200
 

Mercedes-Benz Endurance Trip Day 2

Written by Rano Iskandar on . Posted in travel, automative, lifestyle, Social News

 

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Day 2 – Group shot with the representatives from Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia, Loas, the Philippines and Brunei. This was taken at entrance at the Ocean Wing, Shangrila’s Rasa Ria resort at Tuaran, Sabah.
 

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This was our car for the day – the Mercedes-Benz GLC AMG 250. So much to love about this model and it’s one of the most popular model in South East Asia.
 

 

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Some of the media representatives
 

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The jungle trekking at Sabah National Park which lasted roughly 2 kilometre
 

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The dry bag sponsored by Mercedes-Benz do come in handy
 

 

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One of the media had the opportunity to hug a tree. I should have done that. This was the 2nd round of trekking which was tougher than the first one. I survived but my sneakers were all dirty from the soft ground.
 

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We finally worked out the navigation for easier reference while driving. Hence we realised less on waze unless we want traffic update.
 

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Taken at the Kinabalu Pine Resort where we had our lunch pitstop before heading back to the hotel
 

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Group photo with representatives from Brunei Darussalam. We all had a good time.
 

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A shot with the mountain view. I love the background scenery.
 

 

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A situation where there is overcrowding of Mercedes-Benz SUVs at one spot
 

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This is a pretty sight with all the convoys of the SUVs
 

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On our way back from the mountain and the fog started to set in pretty early
 

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A true test when it rained and of course, the Mercedes-Benz SUVs had little trouble during the rain with some puddles along the way
 

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After trying out the GLC AMG 43 and the GLC AMG 250, I test drove the tamer version which will be launched in Brunei in November – The GLC 200. Again, a luxurious model of its own.
 

 

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I tested with the Sport+ and Eco mode and you can tell the difference. I even did the launch control on the long stretch at Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria. Love that adrenalin feeling.
 

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Apart from the test drive, I love the fact that our host accommodate the invitees to stay over at Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resot and I truly loved the experience. I made use of the humungous bath tub outside my room.
 

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The finale BBQ dinner to cap off the #ReadyForAdventure trip. Thanks once again!
 

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Representatives of Jati Transport and their customers from Brunei also joined the fun 🙂
 

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I wanted to pamper myself and indulged for a massage session at the hotel. I shall give this 4 stars for the overall experience. I even fell asleep at one stage. So good.
 

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Only 2 nights here and I made myself so comfortable at my room at Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria. This is one of the best hotels I have stayed in 2017. Maybe the best 😀
 

Mercedes-Benz Endurance Trip Day 1

Written by Rano Iskandar on . Posted in automative, Social News

 

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Kenny Ng, General Manager of Emerging Markets, Daimler South East Asia and Ho Ley Hoon, Sales Manager of Jati Transport Sdn Bhd with selected owners of Mercedes-Benz SUVs before heading off on a road trip to Kota Kinabalu.
 

Jati Transport Sdn Bhd invited selected SUV owners of Mercedes-Benz and two members of the media for Mercedes-Benz SUV Endurance Road Trip to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

This was considered my fifth overseas assignment for automative in the past few years and this time it’s a road trip from Brunei to Kota Kinabalu. Yes, I’ve been on the road once but only from KK to Brunei and not back and forth. It’s an honour to have Jati Transport organizing the Mercedes-Benz SUV Endurance trip and also inviting me to be part of the media team. Thank you, thank you.

The flag off took place at 7am yesterday at the new Mercedes-Benz Autohaus at Beribi. There were a convey of 8 Mercedes-Benz and they were flagged off by Kenny Ng, General Manager of Emerging Markets, Daimler South East Asia and Ho Ley Hoon, Sales Manager of Jati Transport Sdn Bhd before the entourage departed to Kota Kinabalu.

The trip took roughly six and a half hours before arriving at Hap Seng Star showroom (Mercedes-Benz KK). The entourage is expected to drive back from Kota Kinabalu tomorrow lunch time.

 

 

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Kenny Ng doing the honours to flag off at Mercedes-Benz Autohaus
 

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Lo Hey Loon flagging off the endurance drive
 

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Catching the ferry at the half way point to Kota Kinabalu
 

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The ferry must have been worth a lot since it carried 8 Mercedes-Benz vehicle and one Kijang on the one minute ride
 

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Some parts were affected by the flood.
 

What was being showcase? The media from Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia and Cambodia and selected Mercedes-Benz owners from Brunei Darussalam were invited for the exclusive launch of the Mercedes-Benz GLC 200 at Hap Seng Star showroom at Kota Kinabalu.

The Mercedes-Benz GLC 200 was unveiled by Mercedes-Benz Malaysia sales and marketing, passenger cars vice president, Mark Raine, who flew in from Kuala Lumpur for the 3 day event.

Another edition has been added to the Mecedes-Benz SUV family – the GLC 200. This is to cater to the unique lifestyle and demands of its customers with the launch of the new GLC variant: the GLC 200. It is equipped with numerous high-end features including the 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission, an Off-road exterior package, 19 inch 5-spoke allow wheels and LED High Performance headlamps. The interior has a luxurious appeal with a high value perception. The interior colors ranging from black, espresso brown to silk beige in combination with the exclusive brown open-pore ash wood trim and the ARTICO man-made leather dashboard underline the exclusive appearance of the premium SUV.

Malaysians had the privileged of the locally-assembled GLC 250 4MATIC and now they have brought it a new variant to underline its claim as the leader in the premium SUV segment in Malaysia and this also provide a wider avenue for their customers to choose from.

According to Mark Raine, “The introduction of Mercedes-Benz’s premium SUB range has establish this segment to the luxury market. As the No.1 premium brand, we combine ultimate driving comfort, dynamic handling and great ability, as our SUVs define new benchmarks, break conventions and provide our customers with their ultimate choice of vehicle for their unique and active lifestyle. As the locally produced GLC a crowd favourite, we are excited to bring the GLC 200 as an additional choice for those who desire and exclusive SUV.”

The GLC 200 is powered by a 2.0 liter 4 in-line engine, which produces an output of 135kW (184hp) and 300 Nm of torque. The nee-stage 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission also comes as standard on the GLC 200. Depending on the mode selected for the DYNAMIC SELECT dynamic handling control, the automatic transmission with a torque converter boasts great agility and responsiveness.

Its interior features Exclusive line, including upholstery in ARTICO man-made leather/fabric, ARTICO-covered dashboard with contrasting topstitching in three colors, seats featuring an exclusively upholstery layout, wood trim in high-gloss brown line structure lime and the 3-spoke multifunction steering wheel.

 

 

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Hap Seng Star showroom at Kota Kinabalu. Nice, nice!!
 

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Mark Raine posing with the newly launched GLC 200
 

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Members of the media from other countries came in to witness the launch
 

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Now this OrangeArt Edition caught my eye. Very limited too.
 

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The Mercedes-Benz that was given for me to drive – the GLC AMG 43… Wooohooo
 

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The interior of the AMG 43
 

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Our hotel room at Shangrila’s Rasa Ria which was quite far from the city. Love the hotel and thank you, Mercedes-Benz, for hosting us
 

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Let’s have fun during our endurance trip
 

Contact RA

ranoadidas (a) gmail.com
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Contact: +6738677773

About RA

A blogger since 2002, using platforms from blogspot, joomla and now currently wordpress. A readership that stands on average of 20,000 visits per month. Also on active on social media platform on IG, Facebook and Snapchat (@ranoadidas)

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